The Jewish Colosseum: Revising the Memory of Rome’s Flavian Amphitheater

Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, the Roman Colosseum is oftentimes directly associated with the death of Christians; however, as Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard point to in The Colosseum, there is no authentic evidence from the first century to support the notion that Christians were ever martyred within it: The fact is that there are noContinue reading “The Jewish Colosseum: Revising the Memory of Rome’s Flavian Amphitheater”

Deus Ex Machina: Depicting Cranes and Pulleys in the Ancient World

Within ancient theater, the phrase ‘deus ex machina‘ actually referred to a crane called a μηχανή (the Greek term from whence we get our “machine”) used to suspend and then lower individuals onto the stage during performances of tragic plays, particularly those written by Sophocles and Euripides. In nine of his plays, an epiphanic deus was loweredContinue reading “Deus Ex Machina: Depicting Cranes and Pulleys in the Ancient World”

Labeling Ancient and Modern Slavery within Museums

Over at Hyperallergic this week, I had an essay come out that was about four months in the making. It discusses how and why museums should use labels–those little tituli to the side–in order to engage with America’s history of slavery. The piece was inspired by a trip to the Worcester Art Museum (Worcester, MA) over the DecemberContinue reading “Labeling Ancient and Modern Slavery within Museums”

Purple, Indigo, And The Slave Labor That Produced Expensive Dyes

Those who read this blog are keenly aware of how much I think about and study color. This certainly extends to the production of ancient dyes used to paint frescoes, to dye wool and linen, and even those pigments used for makeup. And, yes, I do also think about what the absence of color says.Continue reading “Purple, Indigo, And The Slave Labor That Produced Expensive Dyes”

Pass the Dormice: Breeding, Selling, And Eating Honeyed Dormice in Antiquity

Ponticuli etiamferruminati sustinebant glires melle ac papavere sparsos. “There were also dormice rolled in honey and poppy-seed, and supported on little bridges soldered to the plate” –Petronius, Satyricon, 31 (trans. Heseltine). Look, I know you may think mice are cute. I, myself, raised adorable hamsters as a child and thus have sympathy for all rodents. But weContinue reading “Pass the Dormice: Breeding, Selling, And Eating Honeyed Dormice in Antiquity”

From Dissertation to Book: A Few Things I Learned Over the Past 10 Years

I don’t tend to get overly personal on this blog very often. Although I adore social media (clearly), the first person singular is an uncomfortable voice when I address the public as a historian. I have always used banter about ancient or medieval history as a kind of protective tortoise shell that makes me seem extroverted. However, IContinue reading “From Dissertation to Book: A Few Things I Learned Over the Past 10 Years”

‘Pass Me A Cold One’: A Short History Of Refrigerating Wine And Beer

Over on my Forbes blog, I have been writing about the history of iced beverages, particularly wine and beer. As many of you know, I have a keen interest in the history of brewing, and I will be writing more about this in the coming weeks. Right now, enjoy this ice cold survey of cellars,Continue reading “‘Pass Me A Cold One’: A Short History Of Refrigerating Wine And Beer”

Monumental Mausolea: Building Projects and Slave Labor from Antiquity to the World Cup

When excited ticket holders enter the various sports venues erected in Qatar for the World Cup in 2022, they will likely not be told about the lives of the people who helped to build these impressive structures. In 2014 alone, a Nepalese migrant died on the average of once every two days while working onContinue reading “Monumental Mausolea: Building Projects and Slave Labor from Antiquity to the World Cup”